Landlords routinely check the history of potential tenants to make sure they are telling the truth on their rental application and have a record of paying their rent on time. You can find your eviction record by carrying out the same background checks that a potential landlord would use, such as reviewing your credit and tenant screening reports. Knowing your eviction history will give you the opportunity to fix any discrepancies before your landlord finds out about them.
Check Your Credit Report
If you were evicted by court order, the court judgment will appear in the public records section of your credit report. If you owe money, the report might also include a collection account for unpaid rent. All three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – are obligated to give you a free credit report once every 12 months. Order your reports online at AnnualCreditReport.com. It's a good idea to request all three reports, as the eviction might appear in one report and not the others.
Purchase a Tenant Screening Report
Several reputable companies, including the three credit reporting agencies, provide full tenant screening checks for a fee. These reports are aimed at potential landlords, but there's nothing to stop you from ordering one for yourself. Tenant screening reports usually contain criminal history and credit information as well as eviction records, so can see all the events that have been filed against you in one place.
Check the Court Records
Eviction is the formal court process for removing a tenant from a property. If you've ever been evicted by a court order or writ of possession, then the eviction will show up in the courthouse of the county where you previously lived. These records are open public documents. Some counties maintain a database for searching on the Internet, or you can visit the court clerk and ask to inspect the records.
How to Clean Up Your Record
An eviction stays on your credit report for seven years and remains on the court record for life. However, it may be possible to remove an erroneous eviction entry from your rental history. You'll need an order of "expungement" from a judge – requirements differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If expunged, the court eviction will not appear in the public records. You can then provide a copy of the order to any credit bureau reporting the eviction and ask that it be removed from your file.